Saturday, 26 July 2014

The Sad Demise Of An Historic Part of Crieff : PART FOUR

 The Old Parish Church in Church Street Crieff

July 2014


The old grave yard in Church  ceased  to function  away back in 1853  when the present one in Ford road opened  There were a number of interments after that date  where families  had  purchased  burial lairs  from the Parish Kirk . In the 1990s Perth  and Kinross Council acting as the responsible party for the maintenance of the churchyard , advertised in the local press that any one who held  burial rights in the ground were required  to contact them pending the removal of a number of stones / memorials .

Fortunately the  churchyard had  been surveyed in August 1972  by Allison Mitchell and her  father , assisted  by the late Marshall Sloan a well known local worthy . Some  134 memorials  were listed and it would  appear that in or around 500 individuals had been laid to rest in the  churchyard over a 200 year or  longer period . 

As a result of their “ initiative “ , the Council proceeded with the removal of the majority of  stones ( destination “ unknown “ ) and realigned those remaining in a neat row parallel to the western boundary on Church Street . A number  of “ stumps “ and a few inscribed  stones  located  to the rear and side of the old church  were left . The “ stumps “ were just simple markers carrying only the initials  of the deceased and  no further identifying marks . The  full transcript  of the 1972  survey   together  with a  allocation plan  was published by the Scottish Genealogy Society  in 1975 and reprinted in 2000 in a  volume entitled “ South Perthshire Lower Strathearn  Monumental Inscriptions  Pre 1855 .”

From the 1990s  the Council exercised its adopted  responsibility for the graveyard  cutting the grass on a regular  basis and  planting a hedge on the western entrance  to the church . It also until 2013 cut and maintained  these hedges .Sadly and regrettably  in 2013  the Council reneged its  civic duties and responsibilities regarding the maintenance

The sad spectacle  that is currently advertised  as  being part of Crieff’s heritage Trail ( red plaque  at the Church Street gate ) is a civic  disgrace The church has  been vandalised  in June / July 2014 and many windows and  frames smashed leaving  the building exposed to the elements . It is a shocking renaging  of civic responsibility that it has been allowed  to reach this level of decrepitude . Money  can  be found  to paint lamp posts  but sadly not the critical maintenance  of Crieff’s cradle !

Below  are a few of the individuals  buried  here in this churchyard – an interesting selection of  people and  names – names  which many of  you will still recognise in our old town .

John Ferguson , feuar and mason , Bridgend Crieff died 23 Sep 1840 aged 51 erected  by his widow and family

William Gouans ( Gowans ),  wife Janet Moray , daughter Jean 30 Feb 1757 aged 22 .

James McGibbon 1728 1802 , wife Jean Rogie 1750  1810 ,  son Peter born 1785 died Glasgow interred there 1812 , son John 23 Oct 1855 ( wife Helen Morrison 1794 , 10 Sep 1852 , only daughter Jean 1826 , 10 Dec 1828 )

( Railed ) Thomas Wright died Perth 5 Mar 1849 aged 49 wife Helen Porteous died Crieff Apr 1884 aged  85  ( also wife of Rev James Walker  of Muthill ) , son Thomas Alex died here 11 Dec 1846  aged 9 years , daughter Grace Thorburn died here 21 Dec 1847  aged 6 years .

( Stone  with besom and shovel – the sign of  a maltman ) David Porteous  , innkeeper  Crieff , wife  Ellis Brown  died  25 Mar 1778  aged 62 , children Christian , Janet , David , John , James , Ann, Effie and Mary and four grand children . In memory of John  ( son of David Porteous Crieff )  died 24 Jul  1834 in 32nd year , by his widow.

Captain Francis Lewis O’Beirne  died Crieff 17 Jul  1840 .

John McIntyre , surgeon Muthill died 27 Dec 1855 aged 68 wife Isabella  Riddell died  17 Dec  1872 aged 84. Son , Rev William , preacher of the Gospel died  17 Jan 1855 aged 28 , four children died in infancy , son Rev AJ McIntyre died Muthill  22 Jan 1861  aged  46 .

William Fachniey ( sic) mason ,Crieff, wife  Kath McLaren  died 19 Jan 1803  aged 69.

( Flat stone ) David Wooderspoon , wright and fewar in Crieff died  22 Jul  1761  aged 52 , Ann Sharp died 19 Oct  1790  aged 79 , son  John , late in Mains of  Dargall died  13 Feb 1802 aged 62  ( square and dividers )

Rev Alex Young of Logiealmond , wife  Ellen Fenton died 18 Jan 1844, son Rev William B , minister UP Congregation  Ceres Fife died 29 Sep 1857 .

James Arnott farmer  Dallerie died  7 Mar  1868 aged 62, wife Isabella McEwan  died 25 Oct 1899 aged 77 . by family .

( Flat stone ) Thomas Caw in Milnab died 11 Jul  1747aged 77 , wife Isobell Paton died 15 Nov 1730 age ( not readable )

John McRostie , mail contractor Crieff died  suddenly of cholera at Glasgow  23 Jan 1849 aged 28 , uncle , John Clow , chaplain Stirling Castle , by surviving  parents , brothers and sisters .

William Graham , farmer Hosh and Culcrieff died Hosh 23 Jan 1854 aged 70 , wife Euphemia Comrie died here  22 Mar 1862 aged 75 . Children , William Graham 7 Aug 1815 age  2 years, Peter  died  14 Jan 1854 aged 31 , John died  Jul 1854  aged 37.

Donald MComish . indigo planter Gorruckpore died here 5 Sep 1851 aged 50.

John Tainsh vintner Crieff died  16 Feb 1784 aged  56 by his family.

David Paton flax dresser Crieff, wife Mary Mitchell  died 6 Feb 1764 aged 44.

( Flat stone ) Rev James Barlass of Crieff, son James Barlass officer in the sea service of HEICS died Crieff 16 Oct 1814 aged 41( rope and anchor )

Andrew Clow of Crieff Vechter  died 8 May1805 aged 66 by wife Catherine Stiven .

James Millar builder Crieff born Mar 1744 died 21 Feb 1839, wife Mary Clow born 21 Apr 1776 died 13 Oct 1857, by son Andrew , merchant Crieff.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

The Sad Demise Of An Historic Part of Crieff : PART THREE

 The Old Parish Church in Church Street Crieff

July 2014


I thought it a good  idea  to list here the succession  to the  post of minister or rector in the Crieff Parish Church  from  the year 1560 . Why 1560 ? Well that was the year that officially the Church in the town/ village ceased  to be Catholic  and  became ( nominally ) Protestant . Am afraid  much of our local church history has  been formulated in the mind  set of our Calvanistic  ancestors . A lot of the truth , in my opinion  has  been dusted  under the carpet . Read about the kind of guys who" administered " unto the morally and spiritually weak and form your own opinions !

Ministers of Crieff Parish Church after Reformation

1560 : Alexander Christie – Catholic Priest joined Reformed Church- reader in Monzievaird in  1567 .

1563 : Thomas Drummond – probably knew John Knox ( Heavenor )

1572 : Hugh Currie Rector of Crieff could have been Catholic  but pointed out  that titles such as Rector could date back to 1560 “ an elementary but not uncommon error  to believe  that there was any religious significance in the use of such titles . 

Everyone  who held office  in the Church  in 1560  continued for the rest  of his life to be designated as he had been in 1560 “

1574 : William Drummond  began his ministry . Probably both William and Thomas  were connected  with Drummond Castle  . The Parish Ministers in those days   often were poor  relations of influential families . William was a contemporary of Andrew Melville At this time Church half Presbyterian and half Episcopalian

1592 : David Drummond was MA of Glasgow Gave up in 1636 and went to Ireland 

1635 : David Drummond ( nephew of  above ) an MA of St Andrews had been his uncle’s assistant . Son of James Drummond  , 5th Laird of Monzie – succeeded to lands of Kincardine and Trytoun and purchased  lands of Callander near Barvick.  These supplied considerable income from tiends towards his stipend .

1638 : National Covenant signed  pledging support  for Presbyterianism .David Drummond  supported  this  but when Civil war broke out he supported Royalists .Called  before Synod to answer charges  that he raised soldiers  for the Royalist cause . Charge was proved  and sentence of deposition passed in 1649 . Appealed  but sentence  not lifted . Continued to preach and take stipend . Got  fed up and resigned in 1658 and  became Rector of Omagh in N Ireland .Later was murdered for unknown reason .

1658 : Gilbert Murray an MA of St Andrews succeeded . Claimed he had made  a pact with Drummond  to share the stipend . Presbytery raised matter but Murray  refused to appear  . Probably connected to Murrays of Ochtertyre . Trimmed his sails  according to the religious wind  ! At outset  was  a staunch Presbyterian but became an Episcopalian and allowed  to continue his ministry .

1682  : His son William Murray also an MA of St Andrews appointed  his colleague and successor . Proved  to be  convinced Episcopalian .Lord’s Prayer used in worship and the Doxology was sung by the congregation  and the Apostles’ Creed was repeated at Baptisms – all of these frowned upon by the Presbyterians of the time .
1688 : The “ Revolution “ brought William and Mary to the throne .Murray did  not  support them  and was deposed for reading part of psalm 118 after the Jacobite victory at Killiecrankie  - “ This is the day God made , in it  we’ll joy triumphantly ”

1690 : Episcopacy  was overthrown and Presbyterianism established officially . Crieff  Church vacant for 9 years ( 1699 )

1699 : Appointment of John Drummond ( Glasgow University ) First problem  was when the Presbytery reported  “ horrid abuse  committed by some persons in the town of Crieff ,by their drinking King James’ health publicly at the Cross and abusing several inhabitants in the town .” Drummond  was asked  to draw up a list of offenders for the attention  of the Queen’s Advocate . Strict Presbyterianism had  arrived and Session Minutes  reflect the discipline  which now prevailed . it  notes “ the frequent profanation  of the Lord’s Day  by unnecessary walking  in the fields , idle talking , bearing of water . taking in of kail and the like “ Elders were asked  to “ take  strict notice  “ of such  infringements  with a view to discipline ” .

1754 : John  Drummond died

1755 : Succeeded by Thomas Stewart

1770 : Stewart suspended for life because of drunkenness which had been reported to them in 1763 .

Saturday, 12 July 2014

The Sad Demise Of An Historic Part of Crieff : Part Two

 The Old Parish Church in Church Street Crieff

July 2014


Why this part of Crieff is so important to our fragile  heritage ?

Now a sad site 

One of Crieff’s saddest sites is that  of the old decaying  parish church in Church Street in the  heart of the  old town  .The location of the  Church and its grave yard is  why the town of Crieff expanded  outwards  from this particular  locus .  Close  by was situated  the old Cross of Crieff . The place  where the drovers of old  gathered  for  a  “ blether “and  perhaps a wee dram or two   in the adjoining  hostelry – the place where Rob Roy taunted the redcoats in the aftermath of Sheriffmuir and the ‘ 15 Uprising . This is old Crieff – the original Crieff !

The gradual demise of this  old building is sad  but perhaps  inevitable.  It has  been  badly neglected over the last few decades . The grounds surrounding the  building functioned  for centuries as  the burial place of Crieff . The place where  countless local worthies  and  their families  were interred and  recorded  either  by an elaborate  stone or , more  likely , by a simple wooden cross.

What is  important  to remember  that this is in all probability  the  site of the first place to appear in  maps and records  as “ Crieff “.

Although one cannot be specific as to why this site is of such significance , authoritative opinion has  come up with some  pretty sound  reasons .In days   gone  by, the Alligan Burn  flowed  from the Knock  rapidly  downwards along what is  now Mitchell Street and   its lower part  known appropriately as Water Wynd . It  would have flowed  then in a south east direction to the rear of what is  now  Frank Thomson’s store . In or around the 7th Century AD the holy men – the priests of the old Culdees or Celtic Church would  baptise people , young and old , as a sign of their new faith . The waters  of the Alligan were pure  and somewhat languid after their  rapid  descent from  the Knock . An ideal spot for the traditional Christian baptism  !

It is conjecture  but probable that the first building erected on the site  would have  been  a simple timber structure  with a thatched  roof . The Church of Crieff is  an ancient establishment and one of the most important links  with the past  in Strathearn . There are, however, few early references to the church or its clergy. A parson of Crieff, Brice or Brucius , is recorded in the time of Bishop Abraham of Dunblane (c.1214-1223), but there is no further contemporary evidence for the status of the church until 1274-5 when it is listed in Bagimond’s Roll.

There were various charters granted to Inchaffray Abbey and signed at Crieff by the Celtic Earls of Strathearn . Nicholas was the second son of Earl Malise who was granted  a charter to lands at Muthill . He acted as Chamberlain to his cousin Malise ll in 1257 – 1258 . He was involved as a witness to a charter involving a dispute regarding the patronage of the vicarage of Strageath . He was Rector in Crieff for at least 30 years .

In 1450 we find a signatory to another  charter . One , Thomas de Builly who was  at the time , Rector of Crieff and proprietor of the lands of Duchlage  and Pittacher .

In 1501 , Andrew Graham  , Vicar of Crieff witnessed a charter by James lV of the lands of Inchbrakie granted to William Graham .

The Rev John Broune or Brown succeeded him  and ( says Porteous ) “ it is in great part owing to the latter’s determination a perseverance that the Church in Crieff maintained and still maintains its important position  in the religious life of Strathearn “ Porteous was referring to the fact that King James had received a Papal Rescript from Pope Alexander lV endowing the Chapel Royal at Stirling Castle to be a collegiate church and the revenues of the Crieff Church and its lands  were  to be paid directly to it .

Porteous again : “ The Church in which John Brown and his predecessors and many of those succeeding him , laboured , was a Gothic building and  dated from a remote antiquity . No records remain to show when or by whom it was originally erected . It may have been a gift of the Earls of Strathearn but it is not mentioned in the Charters of Inchaffray .

It is said that this Church was built on the site of an earlier church . The early churches were next to running water to facilitate baptism – the water of the Alligan Burn flowed by the site .  Porteous goes on to say  that  the Church seemed capable of accommodating some 500 persons.

From this we can see that Crieff in its  early  days was tied to Stirling rather than  its strongly influential neighbour – the Abbey of
 Inchaffray at Madderty  . It is clear however that Inchaffray  did extend its influence into these parts . It is believed also that there was a religious house at Milnab known as St Thomas which belonged to Inchaffray .  Milnab  means Abbots Mill according to some sources . There is however no mention of Milnab in the list of possessions of the Abbey when it was erected into a temporal Lordship in 1609 . Local Crieff residents  will know that there is a small cul de sac off Milnab Street called Abbot’s Walk .

Interestingly there was a holy well attached  to the old Church which was  dedicated to St Thomas  . This is shown on Woods  map of Crieff drawn in 1822  ( .If you look at this web site , click on the map and it will enlarge  in graphic detail . You will note that  Bank Street was  then known as Pudding Lane and Ramsay Street as Brown’s Lane . The well was located  in what is now the garden  of the  end terrace house in Bank Street , once the home of the Robertson family and  now  refurbished and extended . In pre Reformation Scotland  it was  quite  usual for  churches  to have  a “ holy well “ in close vicinity  . These  wells  tended  to provide remedies  for a variety of ailments ranging from rheumatism to the curing of barren  women.   They were  usually dedicated  to a particular  saint usually with some local connection. Locally we  find  St Patrick’s Well  at nearby Strageath or St McKessog’ s in Auchterarder .

According to the author of the entry in the First Statistical Account of Crieff, the church then in use ( ie  the one that was to be demolished )  was an antique Gothic pre Reformation  building with an internal length of 95 feet’ (28.6 metres). It appears to have been a two-compartment structure, since the choir was said to have been internally 14 feet (4.27 metres) wide and the other part – presumably the nave – 18 feet (5.49 metres) wide. Assuming a wall thickness of perhaps 75 centimetres, that would indicate extreme overall dimensions of 30.46 by 6.99 metres.

Dr Cunningham , the parish minister speaking at a dinner in connection with the foundation stone of the Strathearn Terrace Church in 1882 made this interesting comment about former Churches :

“Previous to 1787  an older church stood here surrounded by the graves of former generations . How far back the Church goes I do not know . Probably to the time of the Reformation . Most of the churches of the Reformation were poor structures – some thatched with heather . Probably there was an edifice on this spot for 800 or 1000 years “.
( Heavenor )**

**When the old Church was being demolished the discovery was made in a niche in the wall six feet above the floor of forty gold pieces  Of King Robert the Bruce inscribed Robertus Rex Scotorum  and on the reverse St Andrew with his cross . Despite what Dr Cunningham stated , it is  clear that the  coins found during the  demolition  show   that the building  would  have  been functioning in the 14th Century and  may  indeed have been older.

The “ new “ church was erected to  cater  for a growing  population  but the  religious  climate prevailing at that time ( 1780s ) seemed  to have  been somewhat vitriolic and very petty . Squabbles over  who should  appoint  the minister – the congregation  or the lairds or landowners was the main source of discord This “ patronage “ disagreement  saw the Kirk fragment and schisms prevail .

The original key escutcheon to the main door  bearing the date of the building's  construction

The building took over 40 years  to be constructed and occupied – even  being discussed at the Court of Session in  1781 . Services  were held in a tent until it  actually opened in  1827 . The people of Crieff  were not allowed in unless they had  bought a pew seat ( each measured 18inches !! ) and had to sit  on stools  in the aisles ! Seat rents prevailed in our old Kirk ! Its life span as an active church  was remarkably short and ceased to function as the Parish Church when in 1882 its replacement was  opened  in Strathearn Terrace Crieff . It had  functioned as the parish church  for a mere 55 years ! Thereafter it  became the Church Hall until warning bells  began to ring as  described in Part One

Did You Know ?

The Parish Clerk's house and  the locus of Crieff's first school in 1593 . The building was demolished  about 1900 

Back in 1593   , Crieff was a very small settlement – not a town  but a village. The importance of its Church and the new post Reformation drive  against all things non Calvanistic was hard to swallow in Crieff. Here  support  for the old religion in its Episcopalian format was dominant for a long ,long time . One particular  aspect of Knox’s evangelism was that each parish should have a school . By having a school the children , per se , would  be likely adherents  to the Reformed  faith . As a  result  Crieff set up its  first school in the Parish Clerk’s  house nestling at the  foot of the churchyard and the raised hump of ground  that is  still clearly visible in the sad “ jungle “ is significant .

NOTE : In  Part Three of this  “ Blog “ I will conclude  by  listing the known priests and  ministers who played  such an important part in the growth of our town . I will also list  from  my records the names  of  some of the  people buried here but , in many cases , forgotten  by the passage of time or  physical memorial .

Friday, 11 July 2014

The Sad Demise Of An Historic Part of Crieff : Part One

The Old Parish Church in Church Street Crieff

July 2014


Introduction to set the scene

I have  been writing on the history of Crieff and the Strathearn area  over many years . This blog  has  been on the go for over two years and has published  well over one  hundred  “ blogs “ on a variety of local history topics covering  the Romans  , the Picts , the lost Abbey of Inchaffray and of  course the  fantastic  discoveries  of our Neolithic past – the Cursus and the timber  round  houses found in proximity .

Invariably  the  tone of  my writings  has  been positive and welcoming whenever  possible  and , I trust , objective  and critical when I deemed it in the public  interest .  I live  close by the old Parish Church of Crieff in Church Street  ( or Kirkgate as it was once known ) and know both  the old building inside and out  as well as having a genealogical  knowledge of the adjoining grave yard that surrounds it .

Problems – no one wants  to know !

The background as I see it

It really all started  in back in 1982 . The old Church functioned as the church hall for the Parish Church of St Michaels which was  located in Strathearn Terrace Crieff . The new church was built in 1882 and it quickly became the focal  point of the Established Church of Scotland (known generally as the “ Kirk “) in its open confrontation  with the breakaway Free Church  . For 100 years  the old building in Church Street fulfilled a purposeful role for  both the congregation and a multitude  of other organisations in Crieff

In 1982  the incumbent minister the Rev Dr ESP Heavenor  wrote this sad account of the building  :

“When a large piece of plaster  descended  from the ceiling  one day in 1977 – fortunately not on someone’s head , the alarm bells  rang . The cost of repairing  the plaster  , rewiring , redecoration  , and  improvements  to the kitchen  amounted to £ 3426. The installation  of six gas heaters in the Hall in 1972 was a welcome change  as members had shivered  all too often  when the old boiler  had  sullenly ( sic ) refused to produce adequate heating  . The problems  of inflation  have been met  by a generous  response through special appeals – May Fairs  and Bazaars and bequests  seemed  to appear   just when we needed  them most . The  problems will always  be met  when  members  love the Church   because they love Christ .”

Without being cynical history has caught up . The Kirk shunted off responsibility  for the nominal pound thus perhaps justifying the late Doctor’s faith . It has been  the slippery slope . The building itself  is another Drummond Hotel . It was sold  for a nominal sum to become  the Crieff Community Hall . This became a no go venture  because of  cost and it again was  sold of nominally  to a group  of Martial Arts persons . This venture foundered and it was repossessed by the Crown to cover unpaid taxes . The Crown now are the apparent owners  and be rest assured  NOTHING will happen to improve it’s current dilapidation   . It is  a gerry built  structure that  was cobbled  together in the 1780s . The building took over 40 years  to be constructed and occupied – even  being discussed at the Court of Session in  1781 . Services  were held in a tent until it  actually opened in  1827 . The people of Crieff  were not allowed in to it  unless they had  bought a pew seat ( each measured 18 inches !! ) and had to sit  on stools  in the aisles ! Seat rents prevailed in our old
Kirk !

The problems are compounded  by the fact that the adjoining graveyard is totally  neglected and overgrown  with a  jungle of  grass and  bushes.  What is the reason for this shocking situation ?The  graveyard  became  redundant to a certain extent in 1853  when the “ new “ cemetery in Ford Road  was opened .Families  with burial plots in the old cemetery continued  to have the right  to bury their deceased in the Church Street repository . As time  progressed this virtually ceased . The Council ( Perth and Kinross  and its predecessor ) cut the grass and generally maintained  the area . They firstly planted  the hedges on either  side of the  entrance  of Church Street . Their tacit  responsibility was  further acknowledged  when they determined  to facilitate the grass cutting process by removing  the majority of the 130 plus memorials . I understand that in accordance  with their statutory obligations as being the body responsible  for the churchyard ,they advertised  in the press  that this  was to happen and that anyone  with a title deed  to a burial plot  in that cemetery should  notify them , the Council . The “best “ stones  were  selected  for  display and aligned in a neat row . The remainder  “ disappeared “ into the coup/tip/dump south of the Broich Road .

In 2013 , the Council were forced  to implement “ savings “ and as a result decided that the grass in the churchyard  would  not  be cut at all ! I wrote to the council and received a reply from Mr Taylor responsible for the Council’s Environmental Service personnel here  in Crieff . I posted this on Facebook .Eventually  the grass was  cut on three occasions . This  year it has not been cut at all .

When I checked the Perth and Kinross web site

Surprise , surprise  there is NO MENTION or LISTING for the Church yard grass cutting ! Tacit responsibility is part of our  legal foundation  . The Council  do seem to have reneged on what is  in my opinion  a quite clear case of responsibility for the upkeep of this ancient and so very important part of our Crieff heritage .

Wonder  what Wills and Kate  would have said if the Royal Route had been down Church Street ??

I will follow this “ blog “ up in two more parts  These will illustrate why this  site is  of  such historical and  religious importance in the struggle to preserve our heritage .